For the previous charity special in 1978, Osamu Tezuka and Tezuka Productions created One Million-year Trip: Bander Book. The year after, when the special was held again in 1980, Tezuka and Tezuka Productions created another film, Fumoon, based on Tezuka's manga called Next World.
Construction has finished on an amazing piece of engineering and technology: the Marine Express. Traveling on a rail through large glass tunnels, the train is capable of taking passengers from Los Angeles, California to Japan. To celebrate its completion, a test-run has been arranged with many of the train's founders and family on board. The train was designed by Doctor Narzenkopf, whose oldest son, Rock, is the train's pilot. Also with Doctor Narzonkopf is his youngest son, Adam. Funding the train's construction is Director Credit, who is on the train with his daughter Milly.
In addition to the train's staff, others have boarded the train without permission. One of them is Shunsaku Ban, a detective on the trail of a criminal who he suspects is on board the train. Originally, he had been hired by the Chief Engineer of the Marine Express to investigate a possibility that someone was going to try and use the train for illicit means. Upon arriving at the engineer's home, Shunsaku was shocked to find his client murdered. Furthermore, the murderer hadn't left the premises yet, and when Shunsaku caught a glimpse of the culprit's face, he was shot. After recovering and seeing TV coverage of the train's test-run, Shunsaku now has reason to believe the man he's after is on the train.
In addition to Shunsaku, others who had boarded the train without position include Black Jack, a surgeon who treated Shunsaku Ban and has followed him onto the train in order to receive payment for his medical bill. And also, Skunk Kusai, a criminal who intends to use the train as a means to smuggle illegal weapons and is the one responsible for murdering Shunsaku's client and shooting Shunsaku.
On the train, many disastrous situations arise forcing the passengers to work together to overcome their obstacles.
When Shunsaku Ban confronts Skunk, Skunk and his cohorts fight back, forcing Shunsaku and a few other passengers to band together to keep the criminals from taking over the train. In the firefight, Doctor Narzenkopf is critically wounded, forcing Black Jack to do immediate brain surgery. However, Doctor Narzenkopf's son, Adam, is actually a robot designed to override the train's systems and force it to crash. The Doctor created Adam to do this because he feared what the Marine Express would do to the ocean ecology, and couldn't stand to see its results.
Adam, however, has begun questioning his own existence, knowing that he is a robot, and designed for the sole reason of destroying the train. While in this mental quandary, he befriends the only other child on the train, Milly, daughter of the train's financial backer: Director Credit. Despite their budding friendship, Adam goes to the train's cockpit and takes over the computer systems, integrating them with his own. Overriding the system, Adam intends to force the train to crash, forcing the train to be shut down and preserving the ocean's ecosystems.
In a twist of fate, Adam finds that he is not the only robot on board. Milly is actually a robot as well. Through her kind words and persuasion, she convinces Adam to relinquish control of the train, allowing it and its passengers to reach their destination safely, an island designated as a half-way point and rest stop for the passengers of the train.
Confused as to where they are, they are approached by a vampire named Dondora. Taking them to his master, they are greeted by the wicked fiend that had displaced the Marine Express and its passengers: Sharaku. A fiendish sorcerer and master of technology, Sharaku intends to use the Marine Express and all technology on it for his own sinister purposes. As for the passengers, he intends them to become excellent slaves.
Before he can execute his fiendish scheme, the passengers are saved by a mysterious white lion that can somehow fly. Escaping from Sharaku, they follow the lion to where a beautiful woman is being held captive. Rock immediately recognizes her as the beautiful woman from his vision, and she explains the situation to the Marine Express passengers.
Before Sharaku, she was Empress Sapphire of the Mu Empire. The Mu Empire was a peaceful civilization until Sharaku appeared. He overthrew her, and seized control of the Empire for himself. Not satisfied with just the Mu Empire, Sharaku hopes to expand his reign of power to beyond the Mu civilization. With the Marine Express, he hopes to have total domination of time and space.
Rock swears to Sapphire that he will help her reclaim her kingdom and together with the other passengers, they devise a way to stop the sinister Sharaku. Once defeated, the passengers had to decide what to do next. They could either stay behind to try and help rebuild the Mu Empire, or take the Marine Express back to the present. Some that stayed behind included Rock who was going to wed Sapphire and Black Jack who wanted to stay and treat the injured. In the end, those that stayed behind devoted themselves to trying to help an old civilization rebuild after near destruction, while those that returned to the present were determined not to let their own civilization come close to the near destruction of the Mu Empire.
|Shunsaku Ban as Himself: A detective who is hired by the chief engineer of the Marine Express, only to arrive at his client's house to find him murdered. However, Shunsaku witnesses the face of the murderer as he tries to escape the premises, but is then shot as the criminal makes his escape. In the hospital, his bullet wound is treated and Shunsaku is all set to leave when he sees a television program announcing the test-run of the new Pan-Pacific Undersea Super Train, the Marine Express. There, he sees the same criminal that shot him and murdered his client boarding the train. Dashing out of the hospital, Shunsaku races to the train and boards it...|
...with the doctor that had just treated him in tow since he hadn't paid his medical bill yet.
|Black Jack as Himself: A doctor who receives Shunsaku Ban as a patient suffering from a gun shot wound. Treating the wound, the doctor is ready to dismiss his patient after he pays his bill. However, after Shunsaku sees the man that shot him boarding the Marine Express on TV, he races out of the hospital without paying. Chasing him down, Black Jack arrives at the Marine Express and boards the train so he can receive his payment. However, the doctor's skills are used more than he had imagined when mysterious events revolving around the train and its passengers begin to occur.|
|Skunk Kusai as Himself: A criminal who murders Shunsaku Ban's client, shoots Shunsaku Ban, and then escapes to the Marine Express to make his escape. However, his plans for the Marine Express are more complex than it would seem. Using the dummy passengers on the train used to simulate real passengers when the train has finished its test run, Skunk has hidden weapons inside each one of them to attempt to smuggle them out of the country. Unfortunately for him, things do not go exactly as planned.|
|Acetylene Lamp as Himself: A conductor on the Marine Express who is helping Skunk with his plans to smuggle weapons on board the train.|
|Ham Egg as Himself:|
|Boon Marukubi as Himself:|
|Kojiro Sasaki as Himself: A passenger on the Marine Express who always carries a wooden sword with him. He helps in the battle against Skunk when the criminal's plans are revealed.|
|Duke Red as "Director Credit": The financial backer for the Marine Express who has come on board the train to experience its trail run. With him is his daughter, Milly,|
|Chocola as "Milly": Director Credit's daughter who is on board the train with him. She is very fond of Adam, the only other child on the train, and tries to see him whenever she can, despite her father's wishes that she and Adam stay away from one another. However, just like Adam, she has a few secrets of her own.|
|Professor Ochanomizu as "Dr. Narzenkopf": An exceptional mechanical engineer, Dr. Narzenkopf has boarded the Marine Express for its test run with his two oldest sons. His oldest son, Rock, is the pilot for the Marine Express. His younger son, Adam, is more of a mystery. Apparently, Dr. Narzenkopf has a bit of an agenda up his sleeve that only he knows about.|
|Rock as Himself: A young man who is Doctor Narzenkopf's oldest son. He is responsible for piloting the train to its destination, and takes great care in ensuring the safety of the train's passengers. After arriving at the half-way point, he sees a glimpse of a mysterious girl before his eyes. Suddenly, Rock, the Marine Express, and its passengers are whisked away to 30,000 years in the past by the sinister Sharaku. Finding that the girl in his vision is the imprisoned Empress Sapphire, Rock swears to help her win back her freedom and people.|
|Astro Boy as "Adam": A young boy who is Doctor Narzenkopf's youngest son who is accompanying him on the Marine Express. He acts as though everything around him is new and unusual, with a sense of awe in his eyes. He has a strong drawing to Milly, the only other child on the train, but her father, Director Credit, insists that the two of them stay far apart. However, Adam's past is actually far more distressing than it would appear. Adam is not actually a human, but a robot built by Doctor Narzenkopf for one purpose and one purpose only:|
To destroy the Marine Express.
However, knowing that he is built for the sole purpose of destroying the train leaves Adam conflicted.
|Hosuke Sharaku as Himself: A tyrannical dictator who is holding the Empress of the Mu Empire, Sapphire, hostage as he rules the island country with an iron fist. Utilizing advanced, almost alien-like, technology and his own sorcery, he intends to expand his rule beyond the island and into the farthest reaches of time and space with the Marine Express as a vehicle for his diabolical schemes.|
|Don Dracula as "Dondora": The bumbling, yet very aristocratical, vampire who is Sharaku's right hand man. While incompetent, he always acts and speaks as if he were some kind of royalty.|
|Princess Sapphire as Herself: The Empress of the Mu Empire who has been imprisoned by the evil Sharaku. Her only hope comes in the form of Leo, a magical white lion who is her only solice that someday she and her people will be free. When the Marine Express arrives due to Sharaku's temporal tamperings, she is joined by many of the passengers who wish to help her free her people from Sharaku's rule. During this time, she and Rock form a special relationship.|
|Leo as Himself: A magical white lion that is devoted to help Sapphire. Capable of flying, he joins with the passengers of the Marine Express to thwart Sharaku's plans.|
|Chief Director||Tetsu Dezaki|
|Original Planning, Storyline||Osamu Tezuka|
|Planning|| Akira Yoshikawa (Nippon Television Network)|
Tadahiko Tsuzuki (Nippon Television Network)
|Executive Producer||Michitoshi Shimakata|
|Producers|| Hidehiko Takei (Nippon Television Network)|
Satoru Yamamoto (Tezuka Productions)
|Music producer||Yuji Ono|
|Theme songs performance||Tommy Snider|
|Art director||Mitsunari Makino|
|General Animation director||Shigetaka Kiyoyama|
|Character design||Osamu Tezuka|
|Color coordination||Hiroshi Shinohara|